Despite the complexity and ambiguity of the world today, we all have the potential to develop as leaders, according to Alan Watkins in his book 4D Leadership: Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development. Successful leadership development requires a focus on upgrading our operating system, not just adding-on more ‘apps’ in the form of skills and experience.
Most leaders are fairly competent at the “IT” dimension of leadership (tasks and getting things done), but less competent at the “I” dimension (self-mastery and understanding and controlling one’s own emotions) and the “WE” dimension (relating and communicating with other people). The fourth, or vertical, dimension, involves development in each of the other three dimensions and, according to the author, requires far more than just learning.
The book discusses a number of ways of assessing and developing skill levels in each of the IT, I and WE dimensions. Although I have read a lot of leadership books, most of the frameworks advocated by the author are new to me. Many of them seem very helpful, but I started having some doubts half way through the Leadership Maturity Profile. Apparently only 15% of individuals make the “quantum leap” to the level of Human Being 4.0, the Pluralist, who understands that “truth is culturally conditioned and nothing is ever totally objective”. Even fewer people make it to the more esoteric and mystical levels such as Human Being 5.0, the Alchemist, and Human Being 6.0, Embodied. Those of us who dwell on the lower levels are unable to understand more than two levels above our station, so my scepticism is apparently attributable to my ignorance.
In my opinion the book does contain a wealth of interesting ideas and information, which readers are unlikely to have encountered in other books on leadership.